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UAB supports sponsorship for permanent residence in the EB-1B and EB-2 PERM categories. HSF supports sponsorship in the EB-2 PERM category. As outlined below, the EB-1B category is for tenure-track faculty and researchers whose CVs meet certain USCIS criteria, while the EB-2 PERM category is for non-tenure-track faculty (including those supported primarily by HSF) and researchers whose personal achievements do not meet the USCIS criteria for EB-1B.

An EB-1B petition can be finalized within a couple of months, depending on how long it takes the candidate to provide IFSIS with the necessary underlying evidence. EB-2 PERM sponsorship involves a months-long process that cannot be expedited with the Department of Labor, mandatory advertising costs, and over a year of effort before approval (longer if the PERM is randomly selected for DOL audit). If an employee sponsored for EB-2 PERM was born in China or India, it can be 5-8 years before they are eligible to apply for a green card, even after PERM approval.

At their own expense, employees are welcome to explore other permanent residence options that do not require express employer sponsorship. All three of the above options are discussed in greater detail below.

EB-1B Process

Some tenure-track faculty and individuals on UAB's Researcher or Scientist career ladders can qualify for permanent residence based on their own personal achievements. This is known as the EB-1B preference category for “outstanding professors or researchers” and is the least expensive and burdensome for the employer because no advertising or prevailing wage process with the Department of Labor is required.

If an employee's CV is strong enough to meet the criteria for EB-1B sponsorship, IFSIS will seek written (email) approval for sponsorship from the employee's supervisor and will send you a packet containing specific information needed from the department.

USCIS review of an EB-1B petition is highly subjective, and the petition requires a substantial amount of supporting evidence, which the employee is responsible for collecting and providing to IFSIS for review.

Once USCIS approves UAB's Form I-140, the sponsored employee can file their own, personal application to become a permanent resident via USCIS Form I-485, and a green card will be issued in approximately 18-24 months. In the meantime, UAB/HSF can continue to extend the employee's underlying work authorization (H-1B, O-1, etc.) until the green card is issued.

EB-2 PERM (including non-tenure-track clinical faculty)

Employees who do not qualify for permanent residence based on their own achievements can be sponsored in the EB-2 preference category for advanced degree professionals. This preference category requires the employer to complete a process with the Department of Labor colloquially known as “PERM” or “labor cert” (Application for Permanent Alien Labor Certification). At UAB/HSF, this is typically the green card path for the Scientist and Researcher career ladders, IT professionals, and clinical faculty without a tenure-track offer from UAB.

Unlike the single-phase EB-1B process, which begins and ends with USCIS, the EB-2 PERM process has four phases, beginning with two interactions with the Department of Labor (neither of which can be expedited).

  • Phase 1: Prevailing Wage Determination

    IFSIS must request a prevailing wage determination ("PWD") from the Department of Labor, which is an online submission process that takes about six months of review and cannot be expedited. Once the DOL issues the PWD, recruitment can begin. If the employee's current wage exceeds the estimated prevailing wage (as with some clinical faculty positions), it is possible for recruitment to begin in parallel with waiting for the PWD to save time. However, it is generally best practice to wait for the PWD before recruiting.

    Counterintuitively, the PERM process is not about what skills the sponsored employee possesses, but about what minimum education, experience, and skills are required for the job itself.

    Filing a PWD request after July 1, which is when the Department of Labor issues the new set of prevailing wages nationwide, allows the longest validity period for prevailing wages, which gives the institution the longest amount of time to complete recruitment. It also generally takes less time for the DOL to issue a PWD after July 1 because more evaluators are devoted to the PERM process after July 1. Before July 1, the majority of DOL evaluators are devoted to reviewing wage requests for the H-1B process. Therefore, IFSIS will generally not file PWDs until after July 1 when possible.

  • Phase 2: Placing Ads and Recruitment Report

    Phase 2 of the EB-2 process is designed to test the available US job market and prove to the Department of Labor that no minimally-qualified US workers are willing and able to take the job. The department must post a Notice of Filing in a conspicuous location for ten consecutive business days. We realize that many facilities are open to access over the weekends, especially in clinical/research areas. If you want to include weekends in the ten “business” day count, you must be willing to provide documentation that the office was open to employees on the intervening weekend. It is best practice to post the notice for ten actual business weekdays.

    Recruitment for a PERM can look quite different than usual UAB/HSF recruitment. It must be conducted for specific time periods and in media outlined on a schedule IFSIS will provide. This includes placing two ads in the Sunday Birmingham News (yes, the actual newspaper) and on the Alabama Works website, the employer's jobs website, a nationally-circulated journal relevant to the field, and another outlet, such as a generic job website'. The recruitment period lasts a minimum of 30 days, and another 30-day “cooling off” period is required to allow applicants to apply even after the ads come down.

    The department must contact all minimally-qualified US workers (including permanent residents, refugees, and asylees) by phone or email within 14 days and determine if there is any lawful, job-related basis for disqualifying them. If any qualified US workers are identified for position, the sponsoring department must provide lawful, job-related reason(s) for not hiring each US worker.

    When recruitment concludes, IFSIS reviews all of the ads and recruitment file to draft a final Recruitment Report. The Recruitment Report and all ads and applications must be kept on file for five years after the date the PERM is filed.

  • Phase 3: Filing the PERM

    During Phase 3, IFSIS enters all of the information from the ads, all of the job description minimum requirements and duties, all of the sponsored employee’s credentials, and all of the employee’s work history into the online PERM form and submits for DOL review. Please note that the PERM itself is NOT a “green card.” It merely asks the DOL for permission essentially to set aside a position for the sponsored employee to be able to apply for a green card when one becomes available, sometimes years later.

    The date on which the PERM is filed with DOL establishes a “priority date,” which determines when the sponsored employee can apply for an actual green card. It generally takes 6-7 months for the DOL to certify the PERM, and there is no way to expedite review.

    The DOL selects some PERMs for random audit by issuing a Notice of Finding. If a PERM is selected for audit, the employer has 30 days to respond, including uploading copies of the recruitment ads and applicant CVs and obtaining signed statements from the hiring manager and sponsored employee. An audit can add 5-6 months to the total time necessary for DOL to certify (approve) the PERM. There is no way to expedite review.

  • Phase 4: Filing the Form I-140

    Once the PERM is certified, the DOL's part of the permanent residence process is complete. The employer then begins its part of the USCIS phase of the process by filing Form I-140 with USCIS.

    USCIS will adjudicate (meaning approve or issue a Request for Evidence) the I-140 within 15 calendar days if premium processing is requested. Without premium processing, it can take around six months for USCIS to approve an I-140. Unless the sponsoring department has access to non-state funds pre-approved by Financial Affairs, the employee will generally be asked to pay the USCIS filing fees upfront ($700 for the I-140 itself, plus an additional $2,500 for premium processing). The employee can be reimbursed through Payroll as a taxable benefit. The checks should be made payable to “US Department of Homeland Security.”

    Once the I-140 is approved, the institution can continue to extend a sponsored employee's underlying H-1B work authorization beyond six years (if necessary) until the employee receives an actual green card.

    Unless the EB-2 PERM employee is from China or India, they will be automatically eligible to file their personal green card application via USCIS Form I-485. There is currently a 7-9 year backlog on green card applications in the EB-2 category for employees from India or China (thus the need for continued H-1B extensions in the meantime).

EB-2 Faculty Recruitment

Special Recruitment for College or University Teaching Positions Under 20 CFR § 656.18

If your department has recently recruited an international employee for a non-clinical Instructor, Assistant Professor, or other faculty position, UAB may be able to take advantage of a more limited recruitment process during the PERM. Generally, an ad must have been run in a nationally circulated professional journal relevant to the field (e.g., The Chronicle of Higher Education), and it still must be within 18 months of the date the offer was made to the international faculty member (i.e., the date on the offer letter). Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or attend an IFSIS Office Hours session on Zoom every Tuesday afternoon from 3-5 PM for additional details.

We already filed an I-140 to sponsor X for a green card. Why am I being asked to extend X’s H-1B status again?

As outlined above “sponsoring” an international employee for permanent residence is a multi-phase process. It can take years for someone to receive the actual green card. In the meantime, it is best practice for UAB/HSF to continue to extend the employee’s underlying non-immigration status (such as H-1B) in the very unlikely event that USCIS does not issue a green card. If USCIS ultimately does deny a green card application, the employee will need a status and work authorization to fall back on in order to remain in the US while they reapply for the green card.

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